BEIRUT: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas throughout Lebanon. As the commercialized holiday draws closer, Christmas decorations have popped across the country, from north to south and east to west. From the most creative to the most spectacular, The Daily Star breaks down the most impressive of all the lights, trees and other decorations.
A bit of a play on words with this one. This is a Christmas tree made of tires and located in the southern coastal city of Tyre. In place of a star, a Santa hat is placed on top of the spray-painted green tires. Red dots of spray paint have also been popped on and cutouts of Santa hats sit on the side with Christmas lights, gold ornaments, blue and silver tinsel and silver wreaths.
The official tree in Sidon is quite bland and typical. But there are other decorations around the city including non-pine trees that are adorned with beautiful orb-shaped ornaments of gold and red. That being said, any tree with the appropriate decorations is a Christmas tree!
The northern suburb of Beirut stuck to a simple theme this year as white lights line their tree. Other smaller (non-Christmas) trees are also decorated with beautiful white lights that look as though they are small galaxies holding many constellations in their branches.
6. Downtown Beirut
While the tree isn’t particularly spectacular this year, the setting of seeing a tree in Downtown Beirut, facing the front of the Mohammad al-Amin Mosque, is still a fantastic sight to behold, as well as a sign of coexistence in a country that has had a rough year security-wise.
The decorations are spread out a bit in Ashrafieh as Gebran Tueni place in Tabaris is decorated with a tree and smaller artificial, white-lit shrubs. The major attraction though is in Sassine Square, where the biggest tree is adorned with large, red, orb-shaped ornaments and a large star on top. The artificial white trees found in Tabaris are spread out around Sassine in the different patches of sidewalk. There is also the nativity scene below the tree that captures the heart and mind. Everyone is there – the animals, the three wise men, the angels and Jesus’ family. Jesus traditionally is not placed on his stack of hay until the day of his birth, though that brings up a number of major questions, such as: aren’t the wise men a bit early? Are the attendees’ hands on their hearts to simply check their heart rate? And how did Mary keep such a great figure into the last few weeks of her pregnancy?
As The Daily Star reported last week, the Batrouniyat festival displays a large and classic Christmas tree of white lights with a spacious open area for kids to run and play. A large star rests atop of this tree and a Christmas market is there to go along with it.
Despite its unfair reputation of being a “hub of support for extremists,” the on-again-off-again battleground is decorated throughout with tasteful Christmas ornaments including a number of Christmas trees. One tree in particular is adorned with large gold ornaments and red fabric that reads, “Merry Christmas.” Many of the city’s vacant roundabouts have been filled with towering Christmas trees. Last year, news spread that angry citizens burned down one of the city’s trees. The news was later refuted as proof emerged of an electrical fire that burned half a tree that was quickly refurbished.
2. Beirut Souks
Toss out the old and bring in the new age Christmas! There are two notable trees in the Souks. The first is a classical tree from Patchi adorned with the more politically correct message of “Happy Holidays.” The big attraction though is the Coca-Cola tree. That’s right, the Coca-Cola tree lights up at night and is made of personalized Coca-Cola bottles. Check it out and find your name on the tree. Hopefully you’ll have more luck than the author. There are also large, white-lightened reindeer near the entry to the souks.
So impressive are Byblos’ Christmas decorations that the Wall Street Journal featured the city in a photography piece about Christmas trees around the world. The 97-foot-tall tree is made up of what look like golden leaves with a skinny-shining-star that resembles the North Star siting at the top. But the real surprise is walking underneath the tree, where a look up unveils a nativity scene of paper cutouts.
The animals, wise men, and Jesus’ family are all there, dancing above your head.
Outside the tree are a number of small, white houses making up a pleasant Christmas village.
The finishing touch is the lining of all doors and windows of the houses straddling the entrance street to Byblos with white lights. Doves, made also of white lights, hang in the air and other simple but fantastic shapes are scattered among the median strip of ruins. If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, this is the place to go.